Marking Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) on September 26 and 27, the eighth annual Shofar in the Park program will be taking place in more than 250 parks and other outdoor areas around Israel.
Part of the Ohr Torah Stone network's Yachad Jewish Identity program, the holiday events in cooperation with the Tzohar Rabbinical organization attract tens of thousands of Israelis over the two days to hear the traditional shofar (ram's horn) blasts alongside singing, storytelling, and other educational activities for children and adults.
Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander, President and Rosh Hayeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone, stressed that the program is intended to ensure that the spiritual message and power of the shofar – "a message unshackled by words" - reaches as wide an audience as possible, with the understanding that many Israelis choose not to come to synagogue.
"Judaism and our holidays and traditions belong to all of us, even if our lifestyle is different," he said. "It's therefore so important that we enable every member of our community the opportunity to experience Rosh Hashanah and strengthen their connection to their heritage."
"There is an element of the shofar, with its unique tone, that is able to inspire a sense of deep longing for ideals of purpose and meaning that we often forget in our busy lives," said Rabbi David Stav, founder of Tzohar. "These wordless sounds have a particular power to harness our abilities to improve and better ourselves."
The Ohr Torah Stone Yachad program works year-round through the Israeli Community Center network to strengthen connection to Jewish heritage, empowering Israelis to connect to their roots in warm, non-coercive environments, and ensuring that Judaism is viewed as a source of meaning, guidance, and pride.